Monday, June 27, 2011

Congrats to the Great State of New York

for coming around on gay marriage.

It is the right thing to do, and besides the outer cape needs the Honeymoon dollars.

Man if I owned a gay friendly B & B in Provincetown I'd be advertising special honeymoon rates all over Fire Island and Greenwich Village right now.
I mean think about it, if you are getting married to your longtime partner in New York, you don't wanna go to the Hamptons on your honeymoon?
It is like going down to Horseneck Beach after your nuptials.
No, you wanna go to Provincetown...class all the way, safe, artsy, the ice cream is superlative,the prefect honeymoon destination.
In fact why stop there? Tour the whole Commonwealth, see the majestic Berkshires, the placid Charles River, thrill to the obscure wonder of "The Devil's Kingdom", meditate over the ruins of Umass Amherst and check out what is playing at the Mendon Drive In.
And if just if, you stop off in Somerville next month, you could do worse than to drop by for Channel Zero's screening of "The Devil with Hitler" (1944) Friday July 22nd at 8pm in the Somerville Theatre's video suite. After all, nothing is so conducive to marital bliss like a good old fashioned wartime parody of Nazism.
Admission $5 cheap!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad's Wit and Wisdom, an Informal Bill of Lading for Father's Day...

1.) "Don't Borrow Trouble".

2.) The sense of humor is the last thing to go.

3.) General George S. Patton was "A Big Grouch".

4.) An appreciation of music is the second to last thing to go.

5.)"Don't do this in a restaurant".

6.)"This never woulda happened if Hubert Humphrey had won!!"

7.) Titles are always good (Expl. All Highest, Son of Destiny, Supreme Leader, Boss of Bosses).

8.) If you want to learn how to drive well, get a one eyed man to teach you.

9.) Sport an eye patch, every politician in the Commonwealth down to the Lenox Town Clerk will affect to recognize you...I mean if you like that sort of thing.

10.) On the day I left for college, this is what he said to me "Write if you find work!"

Happy Father's Day Dad, I tried to keep it brief.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And while we are at it...

and again since the Harvard Film Archive's July calendar is practically wide open, how about a long overdue retrospective of Ray Harryhausen's work?
I mean name another Hollywood special effects technician with a multi-generation fan base???
So lets assemble a short tight filmography shall we?

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) So much goodness extracted from short story by Ray Bradbury ("The Foghorn"). Harryhausen's big breakthrough movie.

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) If Ray Harryhausen had an ingrained prejudice it was against strictly science fictional-futuristic settings...Which is a shame cuz' this monster from Venus movie is a premiere example of the genre.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963) This was Harryhausen's "Ben Hur", the famous living skeleton duel set a technical standard for stop motion animation that likely stands til today.

The Mysterious Island(1961) Normally shoe-horning a disparate collection of monsters into an adaptation of a classic work of science fiction never works. But of course, Ray Harryhausen makes it look easy and as if the giant crab and prehistoric squid monster were all a part of the Jules Verne original.

The Valley of Gwangi (1969) A prehistoric allosaurus loose in a old western town? A script derived from Willis O'Brien and the SPFX aby his protege Ray H??
I'm so THERE!

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974) Greatest kids matinee feature e-verrrrr! Tom "Dr. Who" Baker versus "John Philip "Diabolik" Law? No contest great movie.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Harvard Film Archive's July Calendar

Looks awfully bare, there are some nice things being screened don't get me wrong, but for most of the month the theater is dark.
To think last year at this time we were already knee deep in an excellent and thorough John Ford retrospective.
Oh well, helpful soul that I am I'd like to suggest a retrospective for this summer, spotlighting an actor-director long overdue for recognition and review.
I speak of course, of the late Charlton Heston. Much as I disliked his politics at the end of his life, he is nonetheless in a lot of movies I like, love or even revere.
Hell Heston will "get heaven" (To quote my olde Irish Mother)just for ensuring his lifelong pal Orson Welles directed "Touch of Evil".
So herein I propose my own highly idiosyncratic list of Heston Films for a notional retrospective:

The Naked Jungle (1954) Heston as a brooding South American planter at war with his mail order bride (Eleanor Parker) and a farm endangered by army ants of all things. All derived from a script by Arch Oboler, this would be Heston's first breakout role.

Ben Hur (1956) C'mon YOU KNOW you wanna see this bad baby on the big screen! It has everything, revenge, Romans and in a featured cameo, the Son of Man.

The Private War of Major Benson (1955) Heston as a starchy headmaster of a failing military school, closest thing he ever came to an outright comedy. Great supporting cast with everyone from Julie Adams to William DeMarest and Tim Considine in on the action.

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) One thing I like about Heston, he has no fear of being overshadowed by talented and or strong willed scenery chewers. He is Michaelangelo to Rex Harrion's Pope Julius toe to toe over the Sistine Chapel's ETA.

The Buccaneer (1958) A feast for typecasting, Heston as Andrew Jackson and Yul Brynner as the Pirate King of Louisiana, Jean Lafitte.

Khartoum (1966)Heston again cannot escape a penchant for historic impersonation, this time doomed British General "Chinese" Gordon surrounded by Muslim warriors on all sides, lead by none other than Sir Laurence Olivier.

Will Penny (1968) Heston as a cowboy staging his last stand on a ranch suffused with character actor wattage like Bruce Dern, Donald Pleasence, Anthony Zerbe Slim Pickens and Joan Hackett.

Skyjacked (1972) There has to be a disater movie in here somewheres, I'm going with the obscure hijacking melodrama as it puts Heston in the middle of the action (in some of the other disaster pix of the era he is naught but a tiny picture at the bottom of the movie poster) with as usual a superlative supporting cast including Rosey Grier, Walter Pidgeon, Susan Dey and James Brolin.

The Omega Man (1971) For me this is the best of all of Heston's iconic sci fi movie roles, I mean who else could play the Last Man on Earth with such operatic brio? There are those who revere "Planet of the Apes" (And lets face it, Heston made science fiction respectable for the A-List not Stanley Kubrick)...but there is a strong performance that anchors this film single handedly and it is Heston's to be sure.

Studio One (1950) "MacBeth". True story, Heston loved Shakespeare, and I'd pay good money to see a kinescope of him playing the doomed Scottish King in a live TV broadcast, I just would. Lets hope that kinescope exists.

Heston was an actor whose career path was very contemporary, he was a reliable journeyman actor in television plays all thru the 1950's. When he broke thru in Hollywood, he consciously reverted to a leading man type one associates with tinseltown's golden age, a sort of post war Clark Gable if you will. So for all that I think the man deserves a retrospective...don't you?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

"The Luck of the Irish" a partial exegesis

I have always defined "The Luck of the Irish" as the surviving kind of luck, not the prospering kind of luck.
Thus if a natural disaster strikes your community and your house is destroyed and all around is chaos and woe, but you and your family are alive and well, then you have in abundance "The Luck of the Irish".
Which brings me to My Old Man who has the "Luck of the Irish" in spades.
He has survived being orphaned, the Great Depression, war, frostbite, stopping an 88mm shell with his head, seven days of coma, forty separate plastic surgical proceedures to put him back together over five years,partial deafness, partial blindness, sepsis, vino, bleeding ulcers, anemia, bouts of vertigo, skin cancer, a broken hip and now Alzheimer's disease.
Today is his birthday, he is ninety.
The famous doctors who pieced him back together after World War II have all been measured for their harps.
Somewhere in a Veteran's Hospital even as I write this, Father slurps down some ice cream.
Even with all that reckoned above, he is the only man on this breathing Earth I've ever wanted to be like.
Because he never ever let his sense of humor fail him, and never once in forty eight years did I hear him say "If Only I Hadn't Been Shot".
If you can survive all that, and laugh, well then truly you have overthrown destiny.
So happy Memorial Day, Birthday and Father's Day Dad...I can't cure Alzheimers or get you up out of that God Damned wheelchair, all I can do is write this and eat a cupcake with you tonight.
No chocolate, don't worry that much I remember.